Soon after I made this decision I went for a routine check up and found that I was severely anaemic, so much so that my doctor "borrowed" another persons iron injection to give me a shot before I left the clinic.
And so I started on a long process of injections and blood tests. I was also referred to a gastrology clinic with a view to having a gastroscopy/colonoscopy. Throughout the process I saw three doctors: one thought my iron stores were depleted by menstruation and the condition could be managed, one was panicked by a traumatic experience with another patient, got it into his head that I was post menopausal and thought I must be losing blood through a tumour, one (a gastroenterologist) suggested that if I saw a gynaecologist I could have a hysterectomy.
All the while I was trying to buy time to get my iron stores up and take away everyone's panic but we eventually came to the place where I had taken taken shots and supplements, bargained and waited but needed regular heavy duty supplementation to stay within the guidelines.
I felt sure that acupuncture could help me but our universal healthcare system covered me for free hospital clinics and acupuncture would be costly so I had hoped to somehow sort it out through the medical system.
After I had done as much waiting, supplementing and testing as I could reasonably expect, the next step of the plan was to have a colonoscopy and simultaneous double iron infusion. The procedure wouldn't cost anything but the drugs would cost somewhere close to $200. Still reasonably certain that my problem didn't stem from my gut, I decided to spend the money on acupuncture and revisit the medical system if necessary.
The acupuncturist, Kaikit, noted that my pulse indicated a "blood deficiency" which is detectable to the practitioner of Chinese medicine before the point where a person would be diagnosed as anaemic. She commented that the puffy ankles I have had for some years, as well as my chapped lips were both caused by blood deficiency, she also told me that my sleep was probably very disturbed (which it was) and said that they all stemmed from the same thing, that three (long ago) pregnancies and hard work had led to some depletion and that I was unable to hold energy (or blood) in my system.
She got to work straight away with some needles and prescribed herbs for me to take at home. That evening I fell asleep at nine and slept right through to the morning. By the end of the weekend, my ankles were thin for the first time in years.
I had weekly visits for three weeks, then waited two weeks. Kaikit said my progress was surprisingly fast and I would soon be able to stop treatment or just come and be checked once a month.
Two weeks later Kaikit thought that I had developed a little blood deficiency again and I remembered that I had lost sleep on a couple of nights, she recommended that I eat more red meat, especially lamb.
Given that I am in a process of trying to eat less meat, I decided to use the best thing I could and use less of it so I bought some lamb bones and simmered them for a full 24 hours. I put a little broth in an otherwise vegetarian soup and that night I slept the sleep of the innocent.
I have yet to get my iron levels checked but my colour is good, my stamina is better and I feel that my anaemia saga is over (with a little tweaking now and again maybe) and the total cost has been about $250 plus a bag of bones.
This has been a long story but I feel it is one worth telling, I hope it might be useful to someone.